Proactive-Reactive Spectrum

This post is a little lighter.  Occasionally we can argue whether or not a particular action is proactive (because who doesn’t like the sound of that?)

What is proactive? What is reactive? For certain we can say developing a risk assessment to plan work is proactive. A Root Cause Analysis is reactive. But what about the inbetweener items? The extra step taken to make sure every other product isn’t affected in the same way after some bad product ships? When you update your PFMEA with the new control strategy created to avoid the thing that just happened? And if you see a piece of equipment failing though still performing and you intervene before complete functional failure? You could argue these are “proactive activities” though they are instigated by external circumstances. If you want to be really nitpicky…your proactive analysis is often driven by business performance (an external circumstance).

I think it’s a spectrum, similar to the predictive testing on a piece of machinery, or decreasing variation on an already in-spec product. The more proactive, the better, and the less damage or impact a potential failure could have.

But if you’re a purist, and you like dualities, then let’s say anything you instigate is proactive, anything that is triggered by an event is reactive. In any case, failure eradication is a good thing.

(P.S. for anyone keeping track, it’s day 42 of the new streak)

Why Proactive Reliability? What’s in it for me?

In the last post I wrote about what proactive reliability is, and why it is important to your business. Today I want to be a little finer in resolution – the person performing the work. Many people are motivated by internal rewards, this is what I want to highlight.

Proactive reliability analysis involves a certain philosophical trust in the analysis tools (FMEA, etc.). Going into the analysis it can be daunting, and the outcome and benefits may not be clear, especially if we’ve never done it before. It’s a lot of detailed work to commit to, and all without a failure occurring that calls us to investigate (see previous post on the sexiness of firefighting). We are taking a step back and imagining what could happen – these tools help us quantify risk, which is a bit ethereal.

Why is doing the analysis important? How do we benefit from the analyzing? If you are relatively new, or even if you have been around a while but haven’t applied a systematic analysis to your process or equipment risk, it is worth noticing what happens while you are grinding through the details.

I’m talking here about motivation. To be a good reliability professional it is important to have the right motivation – it will keep you going through the details, when the outcome is unclear. Daniel Pink talks about the three tenets of intrinsic motivation: mastery, purpose and autonomy.

1. I touched on purpose in my last post. And if you don’t take pride in making your plant more reliable and your company more successful, you’re done before you begin.

2. Completing an FMEA will improve is our mastery. We will know our process better when we apply this methodology. We also get to implement recommendations that improve our process and reduce risk, increasing mastery further.

3. This will eventually feed our autonomy as well because our decision-making can be backed up by our analysis.

Notice the next time you are required to apply an analysis that seems like a lot of work, without a sure outcome. We will benefit from the journey too.

Understanding Risk: What is Proactive Reliability?

The next few posts I’d like to talk about what Proactive Reliability is and why it’s important.

Today, I will introduce the philosophy behind Proactive Reliability. Whether you are an equipment or process reliability person, the point is the same.  To understand risk: identify it, rank it, and prioritize action to mitigate it.

What are the structured tools to use to quantify your risk? There are several – FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis) is a standard tool used to used objective criteria to determine which process devations or failures could cause the biggest impact to your business. Other tools can be used, the key is to apply them consistently across production lines.  In this way, the risks can be ranked relative to each other, and you can take action on the biggest hitters.

There are several tools available to quantify risk, but any risk will always be relative to all the other risks in our shop.  There is no crystal ball to say WE NEED TO SPEND OUR TIME AND MONEY AND EFFORT HERE. Proactive reliability gives us a structured way to be smart about the resources we do have, and a way to exercise due diligence to minimize the risks we face.

We can’t chase down all risk.  That’s too expensive – putting in redundancy, having extra engineers or operators or maintenance folks and holding extra inventory is expensive.  So applying these principles means we can prepare for the biggest risks, using the available resources.  Biggest bang for our buck.

In the next post I’ll talk about how the exercise of systematically analysing the risk to our business benefits those performing the analysis.

Prepping for Proactive: Set It Up and Make It Stick

Right now we are fleshing out the details of our proactive reliability plan for 2016.  Proactive plans are easier, and more difficult.  Easier, because we can take a holistic view of the potential work, and then pick where it would add the most value.  Harder to implement because it’s not Urgent.  And since reliability requires everyone to participate, as a reliability leader or ambassador, you have to convince people to look away from the Urgent to spend some time on the Important.

This is not easy to do. Proactive reliability is methodical and exhaustive.

Two thoughts: how do we set it up, and how do we make it stick?

Proactive reliability is predicated on understanding risk. This can seem nebulous, so how can we break it down into workable pieces? Risk is about what could happen, not what has already happened.  We are looking at the potential impact of failure, and what plans we have in place to mitigate it. We are casting a broad net across our shop to see any hot spots, then focusing there first. This is how we’re setting it up.

Making a proactive program stick means we have to know why it’s important and be able to explain it.  More than that, it’s about buy-in (like any change management, imagine that?) I’m tempted to rush ahead and get as much accomplished as possible, to fill out the analysis and get the “results.”  I’m learning that even though it might take longer, involving everyone in the process means more buy-in over the long run.

How do you create buy-in for proactive work? What is the right balance for involving people in the journey and making efficient use of everyone’s time?